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Maths Assessment

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by TORS23, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. TORS23

    TORS23 New commenter

    Does anyone have a successful way of assessing maths without using tests? Our head wants us to find a way we can assess the children 3 times a year without using tests. We use the old level grids to continually assess but she is concerned about evidence. I was thinking along the lines of a hands on assessment day with different activities set up and the teacher works ith a focus group to assess those children on that particular activity but just not sure about the logistics of it yet! Any suggestions more than welcome.
  2. I met with a head from Switzerland who told me that they give students problems to explain to another teacher/student.
    I like the idea but it may be very time consuming. It could however be an excellent opportunity for peer assessment if one student is provided with a solution and they assess how much the other student understands.
  3. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    Forgive me for being thick (and for lots of other things), but isn't this the purpose of APP? If I understand it correctly, the idea is to collect evidence of students achieving certain levels as they go along. Is this the sort of thing you are after?
  4. TORS23

    TORS23 New commenter

    That's what I thought. Basically though what she is saying is that if you teach a child it and they can do it on that day is that evidence that they have actually learnt it? She wants a way of 'testing' whether they have retained the knowledge without actually testing (if that makes sense?!)
  5. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    Talking of being thick, I've been on here for x million years and only just noticed that there is a whole forum for 'Assessment'. You might get better responses on there. (Clearly you're lucky to know someone of my observational powers and intellect.)
  6. If you want external data to publish? no, test them
    If you want to predict future grades or produce a figure to give to SLT on what the pupils will get at the end of the key stage? no, test them
    If you want an idea for your personal planning then an APP activity is fine although appreciate that some will not be able to adapt to the different method of assessment
    I despise the idea of the 'professional judgement' in terms of publishing external data, having department plans drawn on it or pupils being setted/targetted as a result.
    In reality no school external assessment is ever done past the test paper..............
  7. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    When do kids retain knowledge? I taught potential A* students last year who had forgotten C grade maths (like finding the mean from a grouped frequency table).
  8. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    When they use it regularly I suppose. Thinking back to o levels I'm sure I've forgotten a heck of a lot more knowledge than I've retained. Anecdotally, I retain the stuff which is important to me, relevant to my job and the stuff I like.
    Thus I can quote important articles of employment law, educational legislation, early years research, metaphysical poetry and, bizarrely, from the trout quintet and concierto de ananjuez at will, but I struggle to remember the periodic table even though I got a b at o level chemistry and you can forget it if you need me to recite important historical dates.
  9. This sounds like a real nightmare TORS23. It's like when a head comes along and says, right now you're all going to teach 7 part lessons every lesson according to this structure and you look and them for a detailed explanation of why knowing that doing so will only get you into trouble for being 'difficult'. APP seems to offer an answer - but - is there anyone out there in England assessing maths with no testing? If so could they speak up please and explain how?

    Good luck with whatever you manage to concoct to try and convince the head that you are a team player while doing your best by your students and attempting to stay sane with the workload.

    Just for your info, if it helps, what's happening in countries like Scotland is that below age 14 the maths curriculum is being split into those areas which can easily be tested (i.e. the core skills and techniques) and those which can't (is the student making connections between different areas of mathematics, are they resilient when they work on longer problems, can they explain and present their work verbally and so on.

    Most teachers test the core skills and techniques (although they are not obliged to if they want to assess them in other ways - or if they have a particular student who doesn't do well in tests) and plan activities during which they can observe, develop and assess with the student their progress in the softer, more personal skills of mathematics.

    Clearly it's totally inefficient to assess all the core mathematical vocabular, skills and techniques this way!
    One key tool we have in moving in a sensible direction is that the KS3 and KS4 programs of study do clearly define a curriculum which incorporates both the harder and softer skills.

    I don't know if these thoughts and comments help or hinder TORS23. Really I just feel for you and want to wish you well in coping with this.
  10. As mentioned by Betamale, I think you are looking for APP and as he also mentioned, subjective judgements in assessment are a weak way to go.

    We use Kangaroo maths at:


    and Modi Learning APP Maths Toolkit at


    Incorporating simple sometimes/always/never exercises along with with matching and puzzle activities into our lessons and assessment has really moved our department on. I'd be against having an 'assessment day', but we do use the activities some time after a topic has been taught just to help pupils top up their knowledge and keep the work fresh for them. I hope this is of some help to you.

    On the subject of 'do pupils ever really learn the work', that's a good question. Whilst I'm not enamoured with PLTS (does anyone actually willingly do this?) I think the idea of learning to learn is a good one. Whilst I've forgotten most of what I learned for my degree I have found the skills very useful in learning new skills such as programming. I have to admit though, I've found it difficult to get this across to pupils, for all the talk of independent learners, I find many baulk at anything but spoon feeding.
  11. Just out of interest, why is your HT insisting on no testing? We have implemented APP but have not eliminated testing altogether, as Betamale pointed out, like it or not the only current form of external assessment is by exam paper.
  12. TORS23

    TORS23 New commenter

    It seems I may have convinced her today that APP is sufficient! I have a Year 2 class and I use sticky labels, I fill in a class objective sheet with a code to show if the objective has been met and any notes I feel necessary (for every lesson) and I take photos of the children's practical work. I have a chart which has all the year 2 objectives on and the list of children in the class, if I see them achieve an objective (and of course have the evidence to back it up) I tick the relevant box, when they have three ticks in a certain objectives box then I am happy that that objective has been achieved, it then highlighted on the APP levelling grid (a different colour for each term is used). It sounds like more work than it is (once you get it set up) and it works for me, thankfully the head was impressed with it and didn't mention any concerns about whether it shows what the children have retained. Thanks for everyones contributions
  13. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    That sounds totally over the top to me, whatever happened to trusting teachers' judgement?
  14. With all due respect I find that a very poor assessment model on all levels from 'true' assessment to ease of use and a few other aspects on the way
  15. We have had several discussions on APP. I'm sorry I hadn't realised you were teaching in primary TORS23. The resources I suggested start at level 3 or 4 on the Kangaroo Maths, and right from Level 1 with the APP Maths Toolkit.

    I work as a secondary teacher but have a responsibility point for assessment and for doing link work with our feeder primaries. Having a set of specific resources to match each APP objective has been a real help for the primaries I've worked with. Instead of having to look at work and try and pick the APP out of it, the system my LA uses allows teachers to assess a particular Assessment Focus using a variety of IWB slides, formal worksheets and some matching style activities (those work particularly well in primary where a TA takes a small group).

    Hope that's of some help to you, I do feel for you having to pick through the objectives, I saw a lot of teachers using that method and so I know hard it is.

    Anyhow, nice going on convincing your Head Teacher that you don't need to do even more assessment on top of that lot!
  16. Well done! =D Heat off soon hopefully. Sometimes heads just need to be reassured because they're getting silly pressures from all over the place. Next silly pressure coming along soon I'm sure. Hopefully there'll be long enough in between for you to get on with your job.
  17. TORS23

    TORS23 New commenter

    Would you care to expand please Betamale, I'm keen to hear other people's ways of assessing as I'm not saying the way I do it is the best and I'm sure I probably could improve it so suggestions welcome. Thanks
  18. mathman64

    mathman64 New commenter

    It is difficult to discuss assessment unless you first consider the purpose of your assessment.
    If you are testing to predict what students can do in a test, then a written test is appropriate.
    If you are assessing in order to inform planning to maximise progression for your students a written test is not appropriate.
    If you are assessing in order to "report" to external bodies then somebody needs to make a decision about how this is done. However it has been shown that ks2 and ks3 tests are giving the incorrect level to about 30% of students for various reasons.
    APP is one form of formative assessment that has been hijacked to give levels. The original purpose of it was to inform planning in the AfL model. Ofsted said clearly that they would not look for APP but would be looking closely at assessment.
    In terms of evidence to support APP it should be sufficient to start with the exemplification files from NS and build on these with examples of students work at these levels alongside evidence of standardisation and moderation meetings.
  19. I agree with much of what mathman64 says, APP was definitely hijacked and put forward for a use for which it was never intended. I also agree that before deciding on how to assess it's important to consider the purpose of assessment.

    We are where we are though, at least for now, and even though APP isn't (and is unlikely to ever be) statutory the reality on the ground is that many are in the position of TORS23, and many have had a pretty unhappy time of it.

    It's been interesting to see the different approaches primaries have taken, when compared with secondaries. I've seen this 'looking for the evidence', 'getting a feel for a level 3', 'examples of students work' and moderation model and it looks absolutely horrendous.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, in my LA we have embraced the idea of APP (formalising AfL through use of the assessment foci on the A3 grids) and of giving pupils different ways of showing their understanding. For the easier topics use is made of mini whiteboards in combination with IWB slides to see very quickly if a whole class has got an AF. Use is also made of matching exercises along the lines of a variety of sorting activities.

    There is also an element of formal written work. There are broadly 20 AF's per level so using the model I've described doesn't take up too much time and it does feed very well into the AfL model. I don't know of any secondary school in my area that is using the exemplification files (there are instances where there were things that are not mathematically correct in those files, quite shameful for a document from a national body). The primaries that have adopted the same model as us have found it has saved them a lot of time and made APP something that is actually useful to them.

    Do feel free to PM TORS23 if you feel I can be of any help to you or anything is not clear.
  20. Re-reading my post it sounds very negative and I didn't mean it to.
    I'm all in favour of eradicating testing in year 2 and as a parent I'd be entirely happy with what you're doing.
    My concerns are:
    1. Is it an inappropriately large amount of work to stay on top of this?
    2. Are the objectives you're measuring sufficiently structural rather than superficial?
    If you're tied in spending a lot of time measuring superficial objectives it may stop you focusing on the developmental work which is best done with year 2. But it's unreasonable of me to to assume it will because I know some outstanding teachers who don't let it. For me assessment at Y2 should focus on identifying weaknesses or stregths which will lead to teacher interventions rather than on compiling big grids of who can do what.
    So sorry for the previous post and good luck with what you're doing.


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